Researchers at Birmingham City University in the UK have found a link between the number of registered nurses on a ward and staff safety.
The academics looked at three years of data from an NHS mental healthcare provider and found staff safety directly correlates with nurse staffing levels and skills mix.
The report, published in Health Informatics Journal, found that at times when clinical demand was low – for instance night shifts – more adverse events were reported. This increased risk could be offset by increasing the number of RNs above ‘clinically required levels’.
Dr Sarahjane Jones, senior research fellow in health and social care at Birmingham City University, said: “These findings are the first to directly address the safety of healthcare staff using data in this way.
“They offer an opportunity for a tightening up of policy governing safety culture and workforce safety and retention.”
The NHS data revealed more than 10,119 ‘adverse events’ had taken place with more than 6,500 incidents of patient aggression recorded, affecting over 12,000 staff. Nearly 500 staff were victims of ‘sexual incidents’ and inappropriate behaviour was recorded 1,762 times, with 4,058 members of staff listed as victims.
In its conclusion, the study stated that renewed emphasis on all round hospital safety is needed, and these findings could go someway to solving a growing workforce shortage in the UK.
“The way in which we value healthcare staff has been brought to light here. Traditionally, the concept of safety is prepositioned by ‘patient’, and so, safety in healthcare is conceptualised as patient safety; little consideration is given to the safety of the staff delivering care.
“In a time where workforce retention is proving difficult and the quality and safety of care to patients is compromised, greater efforts should be made to improve staff safety, which might improve retention and simultaneously patient safety.”
In the Australian context, violence against healthcare workers is on the rise.
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research recorded 361 violent incidents in hospitals in 2015 and 521 last year.
As reported by the ABC, the Victorian Crime Statistics Agency recorded 335 assaults on healthcare premises in 2015 — last year the figure was 539. Victoria also saw a 60 per cent increase in assaults on nurses recorded over the last three years.
The Queensland Heath Department records reports the number of incidents of violence and threats in hospitals at a staggering 5,514 – a 48 per cent rise over the last three years.Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]